California has pared back on education spending, while the Ivy League has upped student aid. Could your state be next?
If you are the child of a middle class family in California, it is probably cheaper for you to attend college at Harvard than at a nearby public university.
You read correctly. Cheaper.
The Bay Area News Group recently crunched the numbers using a family of four making $130,000 a year. Between tuition, room, board, and other expenses, that family would pay $24,000 a year to send one of their kids to school at a California State University campus. Although the sticker price on Harvard's tuition is a dizzying $36,000, the university's generous student aid would make it a significantly cheaper option.
How much cheaper? The final price of attendance would be about $17,000. That's also less expensive than the full cost of attendance at the University of California, Santa Cruz ($33,000 a year). It's even less expensive than the University of California, Berkeley ($19,500 a year), which has begun dolling out more aid to compete with other elite schools.
There was obviously a time when a middle class student could go to school in California for less than the cost of an Ivy League diploma. That's changed thanks to two simultaneous trends -- one encouraging, one deeply disturbing -- that are warping the contours of America's higher education system.